Sunday, May 17, 2009

Betrayal and Revenge: Two Powerful Worlds which Go Together.

Betrayal and Revenge: Two Powerful Worlds which Go Together.
"The Merchant of Venice" (Movie)

This one of the Shakespeare’s stories starts with the division that Jews and Christians had in the middle ages. Antonio, an ex rich merchant, is worried of his wealth. Bassanio, his friend, can help Antonio marring him with Portia, a beautiful and rich woman of Belmont. Shylock, a rich Jewish merchant, lends money to Antonio and his friend to go to Portia. However, Shylock’s daughter escapes with Lorenzo, a Bassanio’s friend, to live a Christian life. Therefore, Shylock wants revenge because of Antonio’s betrayal. Shylock loses his money and his daughter but taking Antonio’s pound of flesh their debt and his daughter lost could be paid off. Fortunately, Bassanio chooses the right coffer that permits the wedding between him and Portia. Thus, Bassanio can give back the money that Shylock lent to them before; nevertheless, Shylock does not want money, he wants Antonio’ pound of flesh that means Antonio’s death. This is resolved in a court with the Duke of Venice who decides the end of this story.

Finding very interesting this film, characters did almost perfect performances on their roles as results of they are excellent actors, such as: Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Joseph Fiennes, Lynn Collins and so on. Thus, this movie is so well interpreted and prepared as the Shakespeare’s book story. However, in a first instance, the movie makes this story as a comedy instead of the tragedy the book shows. So this makes the audience to be confused about the line this sort of story follows. Obviously, It’s almost impossible to know what Shakespeare was expressing or wanted to express through his stories right now, but what it’s interpreted is a bit of both, a comedy and a tragedy between to the great religions worlds: Christianity and Judaism.

On the other hand, this story highlights the relationship between Shylock (Jewish) and Antonio (Christian). The first of them, Shylock, is showed as a Jewish that goes over his religion because of the money greed. However, it was what he learned living in this Christian world, the meaning of money, villainy, selfishness, ambition, greed, competitiveness (who is the most strength and powerful) and so forth. He made his wealth by working as a moneylender and paying the interest of his entire loan. But, at the end we realize that he was not so greedy, because he dismissed the idea of having his 6000 ducats that Antonio and Bassanio asked for, and what he really wanted was dignity and respect asking for Antonio’s pound of flesh. And it was his revenge. He thought that Antonio did him to lose everything that he had, moreover, at the beginning of the story Antonio humiliated him spitting on his’ face. For all these reasons, Shylock wanted revenge – to be respected as a normal person and to respect the deal that Antonio and Bassanio did with him.

Nevertheless, the latter, Antonio, is showed as the merchant of Venice. A Christian who was rich thanks to his ventures, but he was losing his wealth and he had to ask for help. In a moment, he refused Jewish and you can see it at the beginning of the movie – as it was said before- , but then, he had to ask for money to a Jewish person, Shylock, to help his friend Bassanio (who, perhaps, was Antonio’s love, because Antonio did everything for Bassanio’s happiness for over his own happiness to be with Bassanio, without caring who could finish hurt). Antonio believed immensely in his friend Bassanio because if he helped him to marry Portia, Antonio was going to receive all money of Bassanio’s debts to him. Antonio could do everything to have wealth, even though "to be humiliated" asking money to a Jewish man to follow his good way to live or for Bassanio. However, Antonio knew in every moment that his money was going back to him at the end. On the contrary of Shylock’s story, Antonio ended greedier than at the beginning.

The confrontation of these both characters is the main issues of this story of these both worlds, Judaism and Christianity. It’s difficult to realize who won at the end of it, because in one side we have the world’s prevailing ideology and religion in this time, which was Christianity. And, in the other side, we have the people who thought and believed in a different way, that was Judaism. Obviously, in those lands the preponderance of people were Christians, so their moral, values, beliefs, thoughts, and the ideology were governing; and the other people who thought differently, had to be adapted in this dominant world. All this could be the context that these characters, Shylock and Antonio, had lived. There were many advantages pro Antonio which, in a first idea, won at the end, because he had his life, the money, the lost ships and the respect of the people thanks to the Christian moral and values. On the other hand, Shylock lost everything his money, his daughter, the people’s respectfulness and his dignity as a Jewish. Although, evidently, with this entire unbalance context Antonio had more probabilities to win, no one won, both of them lost in this war. Antonio ended with everything due to his lies, greed, ambition and deceits which all are the contrary of the main thought of his religion; therefore, hell is waiting for him. Shylock ended without everything due to his work, help, reliance, weak position in a catholic world, petition of respectfulness, fight and revenge which also the lasts are not the main issues of his religion; therefore, hell in the Earth is waiting for him. However, Shylock was almost always right. He said:

"To bait fish withal. If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me and hind’ red me half a million; laughed at my losses, mock at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated my enemies. And what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction." (ACT. III)

In conclusion, what I have learned about this story that we have to respect people of whatever different, moral, values, beliefs, thoughts and feelings they could have. We should respect people because they are people, and this is the most important reason. It is not necessary to belong to a religion to become a better person. Or having more money is not the meaning of security of living a good life forever or to have the people’s respect. Deteriorating the level of credibility in some religions making the religion that you believe the dominant on the world is not the meaning of being virtuous. With this so much evil in the world that Shakespeare shows in this story, could some God really exist? What of all religions is the most credible? Perhaps, fighting for something that we are not sure if exists is not coherent in the Shakespeare’s world. We have to live our own truth (as Chaucer advices us with his poem "Truth"). Agreeing with and understanding Shylock most of the times, not because of our thoughts we are different physically; we all are human beings that should be appreciated, valued and esteemed in every time and that is what people very need, respectfulness in each other. However, on the contrary, the betrayal of not respect our peers will provoke us to be desperate about all prejudices, hatefulness, and injustice; thus, we shall want the revenge of our thoughts.

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